Category: Freelance Advice


How to Be Realistic About Networking

Networking is a necessary part of the career development process. It helps you discover opportunities you never knew existed. This could include a career that is just the thing that fits nicely with your passions and strengths. Or it could include opportunities in a field you’re already passionate about. But most importantly, it helps you build long-lasting professional relationships.

Since 80% of the workforce found their opportunities (whether working for someone else or for themselves) through networking, it makes sense to spend 80% of your career development and job search on networking. But before you dive into networking, you need to check your expectations about networking, and make sure they’re realistic.

Unrealistic Networking Expectations

When I used to work as a college career adviser at a local university, I had several students wanting to go into the music industry. While most of those students understood the need to network, some would put it off until graduation. This was a huge mistake! Especially since going into the music industry where getting to know the insiders is more challenging than in other industries.

I know this from personal experience when I used to do image consulting for recording artists. It took me three times longer to develop my network with music industry professionals than it did in my previous industry. In fact, it took about three years before people started saying, “Oh, yeah, I know you!”

If one of my seniors getting ready to graduate had waited until graduation to begin his or her networking efforts, he or she was about three years behind the competition who started their networking efforts their sophomore year. Those who had already been fostering professional relationships were more likely to land a job upon graduation.

Even if your own chosen industry takes less time to get to know the insiders, it’s true the sooner you start developing relationships with appropriate contacts, the sooner you’ll see the fruits of your labor. In other words, expecting it to happen overnight is unrealistic.

Realistic Networking Expectations

That’s also not to say it can’t happen quickly. I have two examples of each scenario from my own career. First, I met the vice president of a Nashville-based company while attending an event downtown at the Entrepreneur Center. An exchange of business cards and one brief conversation a month later he hired me to do some contract work for him. And I’ve been working with him for three and a half years now. I didn’t expect this to happen so quickly. It just did.

This same gentleman introduced me to a wonderful small group of local business owners at the same time he had introduced another woman to the same group. For two and a half years I got to know these business owners in a very close-knit way, including the other woman introduced to the group. In that time we shared our celebrations and concerns on a weekly basis. After getting to know each other for two and a half years on such a level, she also hired me to do some contract work for her business. Again, I didn’t expect this to happen, but with time, it did.

The “Organic” Approach

In both situations, I never asked them if they had a job for me. Instead, after taking the time to establish a rapport with them, they approached me with the opportunity to work with them. I never entered either relationship with the expectation of getting something from them. This is what I call the “organic approach” to networking.

Anything that’s forced feels creepy! In fact, one time there was a guy who was starting his own business doing similar work to my own. He called me to introduce himself to me and actually said, “I’m calling to network with you”. Eeww! That was an immediate turn-off and I chose not to engage in his approach.

The best approach to realistic networking is an organic one. It looks like this:

  • Be genuinely curious about other people. Ask them about their own career path and passions.
  • Listen to what they say! Don’t be the one dominating the conversation.
  • Share things with them things they’ll find helpful or interesting based on what they’ve told you about themselves.
  • Lower your expectations of what they can do for you and raise your standards of how you can benefit them.

Start now. And be realistic!

For more networking tips, get the on-demand program The Secret to Successful Networking: How to Do It Naturally and Effectively.

Related Post:  7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts

5 Common Fears (and Myths) of Quitting a Job You Hate

You hate your job, but because of it you don’t have the time or energy to start the overwhelming process of finding something new. And you think you can’t quit it until you find another job. But is that really a true statement, or just common myth? Let’s look at some of the common fears most people have about quitting a job with nothing else lined up. Let’s challenge the assumptions that breed those fears.

Common Fear/Myth #1

I won’t be able to afford my bills. Is this a true statement? Do you have a little extra money stashed away you can get by on for a little while?

Are there some unnecessary expenses you can cut to help you pay your necessary bills? For example, could you sell your car and take the bus for a while? Or just park your car and cancel your insurance for a few months while taking the bus instead? Do you really need cable or a Netfilx subscription right now? Do you need numerous music subscriptions? Or can you just listen to good old fashioned radio?

Are there some things you no longer need you could sell? What about that treadmill the only gets used as a place to throw your clothes when you don’t feel like hanging them up (you know who you are!). What about the stack of books you’ve already read (or know you’re never going to read)? If you live alone, do you really need a TV in more than one room?

Are there some other ways you can earn cash like picking up some temporary side jobs or a part-time job? In addition, can you get a roommate and charge rent to help with some of your housing costs? Do you own something else others might want to rent on a short-term basis? Do you have a skill people will pay you to perform because of their lack of that skill?

Common Fear/Myth #2

I’ll lose my health insurance and retirement accounts. Not necessarily. If you leave your job you can always transfer your retirement over to an IRA where it can still earn some money and you can still contribute to it yourself a little at a time until you get your next full-time opportunity. The only thing you’ll be missing out on in the short-term is your company’s matching contribution.

When it comes to health insurance, you can visit ehealthinsurance.com to find temporary health insurance, alternatives to Obamacare, and more. If you happen to do a little freelancing on the side after leaving your job, you may qualify for very affordable insurance through the Freelancers Union at freelancersunion.org (also, it’s free to join the union!). I get my dental and disability insurance through them at very little cost per month.

Common Fear/Myth #3

It’ll look bad on my resume. Sure, if all you do is become a couch potato after quitting, it will look bad! However, if you use your time to improve your skillset, take some affordable online classes, do some side or freelance projects, volunteer with a local non-profit, raise money to travel on a mission trip, pursue a passion project, or work a fun part-time job, it’s not going to look bad at all.

Whatever you do, do something you find interesting. I’m sure if it’s something interesting to you, it could be interesting to the people who’ll eventually be interviewing you. Show on your resume what you’ve done and the skills and lessons learned from those interesting experiences. This will make your resume stand out.

Tim Ferris, author of the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek suggests answering the interview question, “Why did you leave your previous job?” with, “I had an once-in-a-lifetime chance to do [interesting experience] and couldn’t turn it down.” He says because most interviewers are bored in their own jobs, they’ll spend much of the interview asking how you made it happen. You can then respond with how your skills and resourcefulness you used to make it happen will make you the person they should hire.

When I started phasing out my image consulting business due to burnout to decide if I wanted to return to career coaching or not, I worked a few weekends teaching beginner stand up paddling at my local SUP shop. If I’d had to go through a job interview following that experience, I can guarantee you I would pique the interviewer’s interest if I said, “I taught people the closest thing to walking on water.” Then, I would tell them about how I used my teaching and training skills to do so.

Common Fear/Myth #4

I need to have a “real job” instead of trying to freelance. Freelancing IS a real job! And it’s one of the fastest growing jobs in the country. Don’t believe me? Just check out this infographic courtesy of the Upwork.com and Freelancersunion.org:

quitting a job

Even if you have no plans to become a freelancer, you still need the skills of an entrepreneur to be successful in your next job. (Click here for a list of those skills.)

Common Fear/Myth #5

If I don’t quit now, I’ll never find a way out and will be stuck in my job forever! Not true! You may feel like you have to quit your job right away despite the fears listed above, but you don’t have to quit YET!

You can start creating an exit strategy now and implement it later when the timing makes more sense or if you’re not financially able to quit without having something else lined up. Yes, eventually you’ll have to rip off the band-aid and quit, but there are ways to be smart about it. I outline four ways to wisely plan your escape route in my previous post, “Don’t Quit Your Daydream (or Your Day Job)”.

How to Challenge Your Assumptions About Quitting a Job

Whatever your fears are about quitting a job you hate, I encourage you to challenge those fears and assumptions. Here are a few ways to do so:

  • Learn how to deal with limiting beliefs (the annoying inner critic that tells you, “You can’t do it!”). The process for dealing with limiting beliefs is available for free in the 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan you’ll receive when you subscribe to the paNASH newsletter.
  • Talk to others who currently work in a job or career field you think you might enjoy. Find out from them the career path they followed to get there. You’ll likely find most people didn’t had a single direct career path that led them there. This will encourage and inspire you. Also, they may provide you some tips for making the transfer to that industry.
  • Take a weekday off from your job and spend the day doing job search activities just to get a feel for what that might be like. Update your resume. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with LinkedIn. Can’t take a day off work to do this? Use one of your non-workdays.
  • Put your resume out there and see what happens. Post your resume with no expectations. You’ll be able to see what kind of opportunities your current resume is attracting so you can figure out how to tweak it with the right keywords to attract better opportunities.
  • Write your resignation letter, but don’t send it. Just write it to help you get used to the idea of what may need to happen in the near future.
  • Dip your toe in the freelance water by offering your unique skills or expertise to a few friends or on sites like Fiverr.com or Upwork.com. Determine from these small assignments if you like working for yourself or not.

Make Time to Experiment

Feel free to find other ways to experiment with the idea of making a job or career change. Short-term experiments don’t have to financially break you and don’t require a huge commitment. In fact, these little experiments might be just the thing to provide a little breath of fresh air to your current dreadful situation. They can either help you hang on a little longer until you’re able to quit your job, or give you the courage now to go ahead and rip off the band-aid.

Related Posts

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

How to Develop a Mindset for a Successful Career Transition

Thank you to Tom Kuegler, Huffington Post writer and editor of The Post-Grad Survival Guide, for recently featuring his interview with me on making a successful career transition, originally published on The Mission

4 Important Thoughts for a Successful Career Transition

Career Coach Lori Bumgarner, M.Ed. loves helping people with transitions, which is tough because most people hate them.

My father doesn’t want to move to Florida because that’s quite a big change from Baltimore, Maryland.

My friend doesn’t want to become a freelancer because she’s afraid of how she’s going to pay her bills.

I’m afraid of working at the library down the street because I love working from the comfort of my own home (seriously).

The point is we can all be afraid of transitions, especially regarding our career, because there’s so much riding on what we DO for a living.

As I spoke with Lori Bumgarner, she offered up a couple things to keep in mind if you’re thinking of a transition of your own.

Here are all four:


1. Give Yourself Permission

What are you “supposed” to be doing? My brilliant friend who’s considering quitting her job seems to be weighed down by the demands of student loan payments. She’s “supposed” to be responsible enough to guarantee they’re paid, right? That’s what responsible recent graduates do.

The only problem is those responsibilites are holding her back from pursuing something she really wants — a chance to be her own boss as a freelancer.

She isn’t giving herself permission. I know for a fact she could make enough to pay off her student loan bills AND freelance full-time, but she wouldn’t know that without making the jump herself. Lori echoes my thoughts:

“A lot of times people feel societal pressures,” she begins.

“They think: ‘You’re supposed to have a traditional job and you’re supposed to be responsible, and work’s not supposed to be fun.’ Well that’s not always true! Sometimes people feel guilty for wanting to do those things because of who they feel responsible for.

But most times by the time they get to me they’re realizing the negative impact it’s having on their family by not allowing themselves that. They know ‘I need to set a good example for my children, I need to be a happier person so my family wants to be around me,’ so there’s a lot of me giving them permission, and there’s also me helping them overcome their fear or stepping out of their comfort zone or having to take a leap of faith.”

It’s true. My friend’s quality of life is slowly declining due to her decision to stay at her job. If she decided to try something else, she’d not only uphold her financial responsibilities, but she’d also live a much happier life.


2. There Will Never Be A Good Time

I wrote a whole article on this topic before, but Lori sums it up just perfectly in a couple paragraphs below:

“There’s never a right time. Somebody in their 20’s might have student loans and people in their 40’s have a mortgage along with kids they want to be able to put through college.

There’s always going to be those financial demands. It’s just going to be at different stages in your life. Some of my older clients will say ‘I wish I wouldn’t have waited this long, I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my time.’ If you’re feeling that calling and it feels like a nagging thing, see why that is. Explore it and see why the reason you’re being called to it.

 
successful career transition
Lori Bumgarner

As long as you can be creative with the safety net. You know, safety nets don’t always have to look alike. It’s a good idea to try to get as creative as you can. It wasn’t like I quit my job, started my own business, and then done. No, I did work on the side for months before I ever thought about it. I networked for nine months until I had the confidence to leave that full-time job and take that leap of faith. Any time you do something like this it’s going to be a leap of faith. But there are certain things you can do that can make something act like a safety net for you.”


3. It’s Not Too Late

Along the same lines as the second point, remember that it’s never too late to pursue your passions.

“I had so many people [coming to me] who hated their jobs working for the past ten years or so, and working so hard they didn’t realize they missed out on their families, haven’t seen their kids as much as they wanted to, or haven’t pursued their dreams.

So they think it’s too late, but…

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Related Post: 10 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Freelancing

Save

5 Reasons I Sacrifice Security to Be My Own Boss

Last week I wrote about ways to increase your job security. In addition to investing in career coaching, another suggestion I made was to quit your job and start your own thing. But not everyone can do that, at least not right away. And the ones who can usually don’t think it’s a feasible option. (Most of them are wrong.)

But as I stated in last week’s post, I feel like I have more job security having my own business than I ever did working for the state’s largest private employer where there were constant hiring freezes and multiple firings.

One of my colleagues who also now works for herself said the same thing to me. She left a high-level position at a multi-national power management company without knowing yet what her next career move was. She later started her own consulting company and now feels more in control of her career than ever before.

So, while the title of this post says I sacrifice security to be my own boss, I don’t really feel like I’m sacrificing that at all. Instead, I feel like I’m gaining job security by being my own boss. But, I still get asked the question all the time, “What made you decide to sacrifice a full-time job with benefits to be your own boss?” There are several reasons why.

#1. I get to be the boss!

I get to call the shots and decide how I want to run things, which allows me to use my creativity and I don’t have to go through a bunch of red tape just to get an idea approved. If I want to try something new, I can. If it doesn’t work, I can tweak it or try something else. It’s so refreshing to be able to have carte blanche over my own work.

#2. I get to choose who I work with.

No longer am I stuck working for a micro-managing boss, a slacking co-worker, or a non-committal client. I get to be selective in who I work with. My work thrives when I can work with those who are open-minded, curious, adventurous, respectful, and professional.

#3. I get to choose which hours I want to work.

I’m the type of person who gets spurts of energy at various times throughout the day. Some days I’m a morning person. Other days I’m a night owl. Because I have control over my schedule, I can work at the times when I’m most productive, and take breaks whenever I need to recharge by going paddle boarding or for a walk. Also, because I get to make my own schedule, I can go get groceries when the store is least crowded!

#4. I get to determine my own worth and value and set my own rates.

Never again do I have to work a job where I’m underpaid for my education and experience.

#5. I can work from just about anywhere.

I often meet with clients in person, but several of them are out-of-state or unable to meet in person so we do so over the phone or computer. This allows me to work from anywhere with an Internet connection. In fact, next month I’ll be presenting a webinar to people in Nashville while I’m on a beach trip to Florida. The beauty of this freedom is I can work from home if I want to, from a coffee shop, and even from a hammock!

If working for yourself sounds appealing and you want to know if it’s a possibility for you, let’s talk! Together we can determine if you possess the skills needed to be successful working for yourself. Or, if you just want to explore the possibility of working from home for your current employer, we can discuss how you can make that happen as well. 

Related Post:

10 Lessons I’ve Learned From 10 Years of Freelancing

Want more job security? Do this one simple thing.

Want more job security? Quit your job. Not an option? The next best option is to invest in career insurance.

What’s career insurance? I’ll answer that, but first let’s not just gloss over the first option.

I’m serious. If you want a guarantee of job security, then quit your job and you’ll eliminate all chances of ever losing it. Then you can become your own boss and make all the hiring and firing decisions. Including the decision to never fire yourself.

Since leaving my full-time job with benefits where there were constant hiring freezes and multiple firings, I’ve had more job security than ever before. I’ve been able to develop the grit and skills required to work for myself and bring in a steady stream of clients, to supplement my income at times when the stream was unsteady, and to eliminate the salary cap I had at my previous job.

Not only that, owning my own business has helped me develop skills I never would’ve developed in my previous job. This has made me more marketable for even more job opportunities if I ever decide to close my business and work for someone else again.

But, if quitting your job isn’t a feasible option for you right now, there’s still one more simple option available to give you a little more job security. Invest in career insurance.

What is career insurance?

What is career insurance? It’s basically another term for comprehensive career coaching designed to prepare you for any event that may arise in your career. This includes the expected, like a promotion, voluntary job/career change, or starting your own business. And it includes the unexpected, like a layoff or a loss of business.

Think you don’t need career insurance?  Let me share a few stories with you.

job security

Photo by Tyler B on Unsplash

The Unexpected Layoff

I’ve recently been hired by a company to provide career coaching for the employees they’re laying off. This isn’t something all companies provide their pink slip employees. So don’t assume your company will do the same for you if you get laid off. If they do, take advantage of it!!! It’s on the company’s dime and it can help you find your next opportunity much faster than trying to do it all on your own.

This particular layoff came as a total surprise to those affected by the company’s decision. Each of them have said to me, “I always thought I’d retire at this company. I love my job and the people I work with. And I had no intentions of ever leaving and never thought I would get downsized.”

Lesson #1:  Never assume you’re not at risk of losing your job. Even if your company is growing and promises to be loyal to you. Business is business and things change. If your company doesn’t provide you any outplacement services or career coaching, you may want to invest some severance money into career coaching so you can find your next opportunity quicker and learn how to negotiate a higher salary. Learning such skills will pay for any coaching expenses, and then some.

The Need for a Change

Teresa* hired me for some career coaching services because she was very unhappy in her current job due to a lot of changes in that job. She wanted to start looking for a new job and also explore the possibility of working for herself. So I got to work on helping her meet these goals.

After only three coaching sessions, Teresa found out her current job was being eliminated. When she got the news, she felt a sense of relief that she already had (and had already paid for) a career coach and had already begun the steps to a successful job search, making the news less of a blow.

She knows our first few sessions and our remaining sessions will put her in the best possible position to find her next opportunity more quickly. She also knows the coaching will help position her for promotion by this time next year.

Lesson #2:  It’s better to already have some career insurance in place if and when an issue arises, than to not have it and wish you did. Especially if you don’t receive a good severance package.

Prepare for the Worst, and the Best

I started working with Shane* at the beginning of the summer. He chose my basic package of just four sessions which we completed at the end of July. I recently received an update from him and he had this to say,

All of my worlds have been colliding since our last session, and I’ve only been able to handle it all because of the great place we got to through our sessions. So thank you. I just had my interview for my promotion that was in the works earlier this summer. Whatever shakes out, the confidence and clarity I gained from our sessions made the interview process really rewarding.

Lesson #3:  Career coaching isn’t just for leaving your company. If you like where you work, coaching services can also help you advance in your company if that’s your goal. It can also prepare you for any career curve ball (good or bad) that may come your way.

How to Increase Your Job Security

While you have no control over your company’s decisions or the current job market, you do have control over your own career strategy. paNASH’s career coaching services help you develop a strategy to leverage your skills and market them for new opportunities, providing career insurance no matter what happens with your career.

Is it time to for you to invest in some career insurance? If not now, when? Don’t wait until it’s too late. Click here to get started.

Related Posts

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save